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"Easier is Harder"

by Dave Balch, "The Stay-at-Home CEO"ô

(c) 2002, A Few Good People, Inc.

Is your business as easy to operate as it could be? Is everything as efficient as it can be? I can tell that youíre thinking, "What got you started on this one?"

Horse manure.

Horse manure?

Horse manure!

Since we live in the mountains, the turnout area for our horses is not level by any stretch of the imagination: it is roughly the shape of an amphitheater with the barn at the lowest point. I was, uh, "picking up" after the horses, which involves walking around with a "manure fork" (which looks like a pitch fork), scooping up the piles, and dumping them into a plastic barrel that I pull around in a little two-wheeled caddy. As you can imagine, the barrel begins to get pretty heavy after a while, and pulling it up the slopes becomes a chore. ButÖ it would be much easier if I cleared the highest points first and then worked my way down. That way, I haul an empty barrel up the hill and, as it gets heavier, gravity will help me out as I work my way down. Itís a perfect solution that takes no extra time.

Pretty obvious, huh?

Whenever we feed the horses they get pretty riled up and anxious to eat, and start pawing and banging while we measure out the proper amounts. ButÖ if we prepare the food in advance we can feed them as soon as we get there. Then we prepare the next meal while they are eating that one. Itís a perfect solution that takes no extra time.

Pretty obvious, huh?

The copies come out of our copier face up. That means that if we copy a 10-page document, we have to manually rearrange the copies because page 10 is on top instead of page 1. ButÖ if we copy the pages in the reverse order, they come out just the way we want them to. Itís a perfect solution that takes no extra time.

Pretty obvious, huh?

The fact is that all of these solutions are pretty obvious; AFTER WEíVE COME UP WITH THEM, THAT IS! Solving problems is a tricky business because itís just too darned easy to accept things the way they are. For years, I just accepted the fact that it was a pain in the neck to make a multi-page copy on our copier. It never occurred to me that this was an inconvenience that was "fixable". As I recall, I literally slapped myself on the forehead and said "Duh!" when I realized that there was a better way. The first step in solving a problem, then, is realizing that you have one to solve.

What little annoyances to you put up with every day? Little annoyances are distracting and can actually lead to big problems because they take your mind away from your goals. Anything you can do to make your life easier is probably worth doing. Are you sure that these things are just that: annoyances? Maybe they are really little problems that can be solved with a little thought and creativity. Wouldnít it be nice to eliminate some of them so you can focus on whatís really important?

Making things easier is hard work. But itís worth it.

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© Copyright 2003, A Few Good People, Inc.
P.O. Box 824
Twin Peaks, CA   92391
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